Gaining housing after years--sometimes decades--of homelessness can be a too-good-to-be true moment for some of our clients. They’ve often had close calls and have had people lie to and take advantage of them, so it is understandable. This is the story of one of the 1,500 people in DESC’s permanent supportive housing programs. We will call her Sonya, and she is seeing her apartment for the first time.
She didn't like the elevator. “What happens when it breaks down?” And she didn't like that the apartment building was so far from downtown. "Everyone I know is at the shelter," she groused. As we walked in, she paused at the window.
"A view," she finally said.
She checked out the bathroom, opened drawers in the kitchen, sat down on the bed, and tears started flowing. The brusque, questioning client who walked in had become vulnerable and emotional.
She said, "You know I'm poor, right?"
We assured her that we knew. And then she said, "And you know I can't work--on my bad days the voices in my head..."
We again assured her that we knew this. She then said, "Okay, nice model apartment, but let's go look at what I would really live in."
“No, Sonya, this is it,” we explained. “This would be your home.”
She smiled! Who knew Sonya could smile?
"This is my bed--this is my pillow?" She ran back into the bathroom. "This is my crapper?" she giggled.
"I feel like this is the ‘Price is Right’ or something!"
A tough day for us turned so rewarding. She loved the bedding, loved that the sheets were not plain and white. And everything was new--unchipped dishes, fluffy towels. And kitchen items!
“I’m going to learn to cook finally.”
We left Sonya in her apartment, and as soon as we were out of sight, we hugged each other and cried. As privileged as Sondra felt, we felt privileged too, for being part of that moment.
Help us provide housing, health, and other support to our most vulnerable and marginalized members of our community, those navigating the complex needs of homelessness and behavioral health challenges. Your support means more places to call home for others like Sonya.